Health Beat

Health Beat: MDNA trial for glioblastoma

LOS ANGELES - Rusty Doms' first scans were good after a cutting-edge procedure for glioblastoma. He hopes to get back on the paddleboard one day.

"I'm not on top of the world, but yes, I feel good, and one step in front of the other, and a positive attitude," Doms said.

He's part of a trial at John Wayne Cancer Institute. Doctors use a bio-engineered protein that leaves healthy cells alone. It's called MDNA55.

"It can bind directly to tumor cells and bring in a payload, which is like a Trojan horse that acts directly on tumor cells and causes the tumor cells to undergo programmed cell death," said Dr. Achal Singh Achrol, the director of neurovascular surgery at John Wayne Cancer Institute and Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John's Health Center.

Doms and five others had the drug delivered directly to their tumors through up to four catheters. At first, guided by MRIs, it took up to 20 hours.

"Not only are we getting the bulk of the tumor that we see, but the drug is actually fusing to the rest of the brain where we see the single cells that are intertwined, infiltrating into the brain," explained Dr. Santosh Kesari, the chair of translational neurosciences at John Wayne Cancer Center.

Early results are promising. At one month, Doms had swelling, but at two, his MRI showed tumor shrinkage.

"If this trial is successful, I will have helped myself, but I will have helped other people, because right now, as best I know, there's no cure for glioblastoma," Doms said.

He knows it's early, but Doms is optimistic.

The procedure is minimally invasive, and Doms was out of the hospital in two days. He said his worst side-effects are fatigue and some cognitive delay. The trial is open and running in nine cancer centers in the United States.

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